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193 The years immediately following the mid-1950s witnessed an evident increase in self-confidence on the part of the Soviet Union’s leadership. Its practical expression came in the ambitious twenty-year program for securing Soviet superiority over the United States, triumphantly proclaimed by Nikita Khrushchev at the Twentysecond Communist Party Congress in October 1961. Soon after the Soviet military intervention in Hungary in November 1956, the situation in Eastern Europe appeared stabilized and fully under Moscow’s control, despite the feeble attempts of Polish leader Władysław Gomułka to express a personal view on key European issues and East German leader Walter Ulbricht’s strong call for hardening the Soviet bloc’s position toward West Germany. PoliticalconditionsintheWarsawPact’ssoutherntier alsoappeared favorablefor Soviet interests. For more than a decade Romania had remained a Soviet stronghold in the Balkans. Shortly after the Stalin-Tito conflict flared up in the early summer of 1948, Cominform headquarters moved from Belgrade to Bucharest, followed by a number of related moves. It was by no means accidental that the notorious secret fund “Moscow,” which was designed to finance scores of leftist radical parties and organizations in Western European and Third World countries (with average annual expenditures of more than $10 million), bore the official name International Trade-Union Fund for Assistance of Left Labor Organizations at the Council of the Romanian Trade-Unions. The Romanian leadership displayed energetic support for the Soviet military intervention in Hungary and after the uprising’s suppression kept the detained Hungarian leaders under arrest for nearly two years on Romanian territory until their executions. Nor is it accidental that the first two meetings of the 12 The Warsaw Pact and Southern Tier Conflicts, 1959–1969 Jordan Baev 194 Nato and the warsaw pact multilateral Warsaw Pact Intelligence Services were held in Bucharest in 1955 and 1958, initiated by General Alexander Dragici, Romania’s minister of the interior.1 In the late 1950s, Albania also appeared to be a trustworthy Soviet outpost in the Mediterranean area. After Nikita Khrushchev’s triumphal visit to Tirana in 1959, Moscow signed auxiliary military agreements providing for access to the Albanian navalbaseofVlorëbySovietwarshipsandforsubmarinestosail under theAlbanian flag as a cover. In Bulgaria, traditionally friendly toward Russia, there was little reason to suspect even a trace of anti-Soviet feelings. In addition, the Bulgarian Communistleader,TodorZhivkov,hadassumedpower with Khrushchev’spersonal support and successfully managed in the early 1960s to oust systematically all his old rivals and to establish extremely close relations with his Kremlin patron. Within several years, however, this relatively harmonious region for Soviet interests dramatically changed. Albania would transform itself into the most fervent opponent of “Soviet revisionism,” and Romanian leaders would express hard-line opposition to Soviet initiatives within the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO). In 1965, Zhivkov’s security services uncovered plans for a military coup, in what would be the most serious challenge in his thirty-five years of authoritarian personal rule. Coup organizers, members of the Communist leadership, and army generals would be branded as supporters of Maoist China. Thus, in the span of just a few years, the BalkansturnedfromthemostsecureandloyalareaoftheSovietdomainintoathorny region for Moscow’s interests. Notwithstanding these problems, the Kremlin did not send its troops against Albania or Romania, as it had with other Eastern European states.UnlikethepolicyStalinhadutilizedtochallengeTito,theSovietsnowinitiated no serious covert actions to unseat Enver Hoxha or Nicolae Ceauşescu. Since the demise of the Communist regimes, Eastern European archives have disclosed much specific information on the decision making of individual leaders and their governments during the Cold War years. In contrast, Soviet policy and estimates, apart from crisis years (1953, 1956, 1968, 1980–81), have been rather scantily studied. Consequently, although it will be difficult to answer a good number of questions as long as there is insufficient access to the Moscow archives, it is nonetheless appropriate to discuss them on the basis of available archival documentation, the objective of this chapter. During the Soviet bloc’s first postwar “Stalinist” decade, the Kremlin established total control over Eastern Europe and had access to fairly complete and reliable intelligence on conditions in the region. Reports sent through diplomatic, party, and military channels and the information supplied by KGB agents in the Eastern European states clearly support this evaluation.2 The new Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, received summary reports on the situation in each country. For example, several months after the events in Poland and Hungary, in March and April 1957, KGB chairman Alexandr Shelepin submitted reports to Khrushchev on...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781612776033
Related ISBN
9780873389365
MARC Record
OCLC
817789387
Pages
320
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-26
Language
English
Open Access
No
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